Liverpool and the Mersey – they’ve had a turbulent history. The river gave the city life, and the city – in its heyday – grew rich from the spoils of its port. At one time, in the mid nineteenth century, forty percent of the world’s trade passed through Liverpool.
Nowadays, after many years spent with its back turned away from the wharfs and warehouses, the city’s reconnecting to its maritime roots, and reanimating its UNESCO-protected waterfront.
Visit in early Summer and Liverpool’s waterfront is alive with al fresco cafés, open-air theatre, fascinating tours and fabulous visitor attractions to explore, all within minutes of our Travelodge hotel in Liverpool Strand.
Mersey River Festival
Liverpool’s handsome Pier head – complete with its ‘Three Graces’ of the Liver Buildings, Cunard Headquarters and Port of Liverpool Building – form the backdrop for the fun, family-friendly and free Mersey River Festival (13-15 June). Expect sea-shanties, sixties pop, square riggers and salty seafaring tales aplenty. Concerts will be free, and held on Friday night, Saturday night and Sunday daytime. Nautically inclined? Seize the chance to jump aboard vessels of all shapes and sizes including tall ships, traditional and ultramodern craft from across the world.
Ferry ‘Cross the Mersey
What’s the best way to see a waterfront city? Wake up at the back… yes, from the water! On a good day the forty minute trip from the Pier Head is a delight. The commentary offers at-a-glance facts about the major buildings you can spot from the deck while strategically placed information boards reveal that this route is the oldest paid river crossing in the UK, dating back to 1150. There’s a café on board. Alight at Seacombe for Spaceport, a thrilling visitor attraction complete with planetarium and hands-on astronomy exhibits aimed at young children.
£5.10/ £2.85 Daily, times vary. More information here.
Mondrian at Tate Liverpool
Liverpool’s vibrant outpost of the Tate (the UK’s collection of modern art) hosts a major retrospective of Dutch painter Piet Mondrian this summer. With his geometric and striking compositions, Mondrian was one of the most important contributors to Cubism at the start of the 20th century. This exhibition commemorates the 70th anniversary of the artist’s death, and shows work that looks as fresh as ever: and a man whose influence still shapes graphic art today.
£11/ £8.25, 6 June – 5 October. More information here.
RIBA Gateway to the World Tours
Twice a week, ‘Gateway To The World’ puts a spotlight on key buildings and spaces along the waterfront. Buildings that form an essential part of the city’s landscape, character, commerce and culture. It’s a fun way to bring to life the stories of Liverpool’s seafaring and mercantile past.
The prices are pretty good, too: it’s £7.50/£4 concessions, and that’s for a two hour guided tour. Well worth looking into if you’re keen to strip back some of Liverpool’s many curious layers. More information here.
Elvis and Us
There are two great Beatles exhibitions at the waterfront. But this, a semi-permanent exhibition at the Pier Head’s Beatles Story, offers something different: a multimedia, interactive experience examining both Elvis and The Beatles – and their influence on each other. For popular music fans, this must be as close to heaven as it gets. Exhibitions include the white Fender bass guitar played by Elvis and The Beatles at their legendary meeting, and the ‘Jailhouse Rock’ shirt worn by Elvis in the film. Great fun.
£6. Combined with Beatles Story £15.95/ £12.00, Child £7. More information here.